Take My Hand Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

            Jo startled awake as her alarm went off the next morning. She had been sleeping so soundly that the alarm nearly made her fall from the bed. She shut the alarm off and looked around for Carson, wondering where he had disappeared to when she noticed a message on her phone:

            Good morning, Jocelyn. I am sorry I could not be here when you woke up. Sadly, the myth about my kind and their tolerance for the sun is at least partially true, and so I was forced to leave early. I will come by tonight, however, if you would like for me to. I would love to see you again…and perhaps get to know the sweet woman who had compassion and trust for a pathetic, lost stranger. But I will leave that up to you and will only return if you ask me to, so please do not feel pressured. I hope you are feeling better, and if you need me, I programmed my number into your phone, so don’t hesitate to call me. Have a wonderful day, my beautiful Jo, and please be safe.

            Jocelyn smiled at his message, thinking how truly special this man was. She laughed, realizing that special didn’t begin to cover it. Only two nights ago, Jo had rescued a compelling stranger, admittedly not the smartest thing to do, and now she finds that the man is, in all actuality, a vampire. Oh my, I’m losing my mind, too, she thought as she laughed at the absurdity of it all.

            Jo shook her head and tried to get up from the bed, wincing at the pain in her stomach and between her legs. Her face felt hot and throbbed in time to her heart. She dragged herself slowly out of the bed and walked to her bathroom, closing her eyes before she turned to face the mirror. She wasn’t yet sure whether she was ready to see the extent of the damage that the two men had inflicted. She slowly opened her eyes, gasping as she took in the large hand-shaped bruise that covered the entirety of her left cheek. It had turned purple during the night, swelling until her left eye was squinted almost shut, surrounded by a purple and blue bruise of its own. There was a split in her skin just along her cheekbone in the middle of the bruise. It looked angry and red and had begun to scab over, making it look more gruesome. Her lips was split just below the handprint, making the left side of her mouth pucker outward. The area around her nose was blue and swollen. It certainly wasn’t a pretty sight, and she wasn’t encouraged by the rest of her body either as she continued to inspect herself in the mirror. Cringing a little at the movement, she lifted her shirt and sports bra over her head and let them fall to the floor, taking in the bruise that spanned her middle just below her ribs. It was round and nearly black just around her diaphragm and spread out in varying shades of blue and purple and, eventually, yellow. Her collarbone on her left side had a small, round, blue bruise. Her breasts had small, lightly colored bruises from the man’s rough hands. Her neck had a small slit from where he had drawn just a bit of blood with the knife he had held there. Her hands were scraped from where she had caught herself on the pavement. Her scalp was sore from where he had jerked on her hair. She was certain there was internal damage from the man’s perverted, questing fingers.

            Her body was ugly and sore and marred.

            Her mind was tired and numb.

            Her eyes were red and burning from crying.

            She frowned deeply at her reflection, yet no tears welled at the sight of her broken body. It was nothing she hadn’t seen before in some form or another.

            And then she thought of Carson and how he had rescued her and cared for her. He had held her while she cried for what had happened both last night and in her past. He had been so patient and kind, comforting her the best way he could. She couldn’t help but smile. He was a special man, indeed.

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